Leadership

How To Manage a "Not My Job" Attitude and Be More Successful (Part 2)

Business leaders that practice a "not my job" attitude start by focusing their thoughts on the most important issues.  The best way to get that focus is to "Think Like A CEO or Busines Owner."  (Check out part one of this series right here -  GO!)  The second method is to:

Inventory Your Workload and Prioritize Your Worth

Here is a practical exercise to help you accomplish this.  Sit down and write out every task, objective, responsibility, expectations of yourself, expectations others have of you, projects, meetings, etc....  You have to have a complete inventory of what you do, should do and what you wish you could do. 

Once you have that completed, set it aside for a couple days. 

Then schedule 20 minutes with yourself (or if you have an assistant include them) and ruthlessly prioritize that list.  Don't over think this exercise.  Put a check mark next to the items that are "strictly your responsibility" or fit solidly within your strengths.  Resist the urge to check off every item.  Leave it alone if it can be done by another person or even automated.  

Create a new list of only those things you checked as priorities. 

Circle 3 to 5 items that you know are your best investment of mental and emotional energy.  These have to be proactive activities that create momentum toward the desired results.  Get focused on your most valued contribution.

Getting your list down to the absolute essentials will help you get up to speed on your greatest worth.

Consider these two questions:  What do you need to view differently if you are going to think like a CEO?  What are the essentials in your workload and expectations?  

If you're getting tired of fighting fires and always having to be in a reactionary posture - get clear on your answers to the questions above.

 

--  Steven

PS - Stay tuned for third method -  Dominate Your Space, Delegate with Grace.

 


How to Manage a "Not My Job" Attitude and Be More Successful (Part 1)


The words "It's not my job" usually causes a leader or manager to hang their head in disgust.  But we've been exploring the idea that possibly the phrase could be a positive launching point to move people to a greater sense of purpose and to be more engaged.

What would the employees in a large organization think if they heard their leaders and managers use the same term?  How could the concept of "not my job" actually help managers and executives be more productive?  Many successful leaders in business practice some form of this attitude.  Here are four methods that can help you manage your own "not my job" attitude and become more successful:

  1. Think like a CEO or Business Owner
  2. Inventory Your Workload, Prioritize Your Worth
  3. Dominate Your Space, Delegate with Grace
  4. Do What Others Are Not Willing To Do

Get ready for a big shift in your energy, focus and creativity.  Let's look at the first method:

Think Like a CEO or Business Owner.

Your title does not matter. You may be the VP of ________, the Manager of ________, or the Shift Supervisor.  Your role is not defined so much by the title, but by the value you contribute to the company and the results that are required.  People who look beyond the job expectations or the to-do list, and think of themselves as the CEO / Owner of their part of the company are the people who move the organization forward.  What does a CEO or Owner think about? 

Responsibility to stake holders, customers, and employees

Accountability to produce the right results.

Stability - financial, personnel, culture.

Productivity - their own and the company as a whole.

Development - a focus on growth.  What am I doing to equip leaders in my organization to make better decisions and to be big-play makers?  What are we doing to “create” as opposed to simply sustain?

Visionary - has a deeply personal view of what can be, not just what has been.

This is your job - to think proactively and to act accordingly.  Once you know what should be on your mind, then you can move on to the hard work of working only on your priorities.

--  Steven

PS - What do you think about that list?  What else should be on that list?  

 


I Want My Employees to say: "It's Not My Job"

I know, that doesn't make any sense!  

Why would a leader encourage members and employees of the organization to say "That is not my job"?

Because, it isn't their job.  Not if they work in an environment that empowers them to take responsibility for the outcomes.  People are more engaged and invested when there is an intrinsic understanding that the progress and success of the company is directly related to the individual efforts, skills, and ability to problem solve.  It is not their job, it is their mission - their cause.

People who have arrive at this understanding are deeply committed and have a greater sense of ownership.  In fact, they think and behave as if they do own the company.  For example, a young lady approached her boss with a strategy to reduce the time it takes to process a customers request for additional services.  Her plan could save employees approximately 20 minutes per transaction.  When the boss asked why she had given this so much thought and effort, she responded "I thought that the cost savings for the company would be significant and it would help employees to have time to focus more on producing results and less on process."  It was not her job to come up with those ideas.  Her "job" was to simply carry out the tasks.  And yet, her mission was to make the company stronger and her role became more valuable.

The fastest way you can begin creating this kind of energy and engagement is to:

1)  Minimize the rules, and get out of their way.

2)  Maximize the recognition and give them the credit.

(Click here for the Four Ways to Promote a Mission-Mindset)

There are two dangers to keep in mind as you move in this direction - the lines between who is responsible for what can become fuzzy and you may end up doing things that you shouldn't.

You can avoid the first problem by having regular conversations with individuals and the whole team about specific roles and responsiblities.  We need to release people to play to their strengths.  We also need to remind the whole team that we contribute to each others efforts, but not at the expense of our own duties.

The second problem of doing what you shouldn't do can be overcome by declaring "It's Not My Job".  My friend Laura Stack, the Productivity Pro, has a fantastic article that can help you stay focused on your priorities!

Share with me your thoughts about this blog or how you are empowering others to be more successful.

-- Steven

 


How to Turn "It's Not My Job" Into An Opportunity

ImageNothing can be more irritating to a customer, coworker or a leader than to hear someone spout off, “It is not my job!”  As a customer, I don’t care what’s in your job description.  What I care about is your ability to help me.  As a coworker, I’m more interested in a collaborative team effort and the success of our company.  As a leader, I consider your talents to be of value to the overall objectives and expect you to step up when needed.  (And as your leader, when you give me that kind of attitude I’m inclined to consider helping you find a different job in a remote location.)

“It’s not my job” has become a phrase that people use to excuse themselves from additional or undesirable work.  In some workplaces, it is used as the “invisible force field” that people invoke as they quote their job description and successfully avoid professional responsibility.  It is nothing more than the mantra of the lazy.

Let’s stop right there.  I’m going to suggest that we look at the phrase in a new way.  When an employee says “It’s not my job” - they are right.  Whatever is being asked of them is not their job.  It is no one’s job.  Because, none of us have a job.  That would be true if we worked in an environment that promoted personal and professional responsibility vs job descriptions and commands.  Our role as leaders is not to force or enforce job functions.  We are responsible to equip quality, productive people that have a mission-oriented mindset, not a job mentality.  They hear of a need and immediately consider “how can I best achieve the desired results?”

The right environment gives permission to workers to say, “It’s not my job - it is my mission… to wow the customer, help my coworkers succeed, and move our company to the leading edge of our industry.”  That attitude and atmosphere is what separates progressive, growing companies from those that are struggling to make a profit.  

There are FOUR WAYS TO PROMOTE A MISSION MINDSET:

1)  Create An “On-A-Mission” Environment.

Don't manage the job descriptions, lead the people.  Here are some quick tips for changing the focus of the work environment.  

  • Identify the "Why":  The Purpose gives meaning to the project.
  • Switch from a Top Down approach to a Side by Side Culture.
  • Model and Expect Engagement.  Communicate frequently that business growth is driven by personal growth.

2)  Coach Employees to Identify Their Role with the Mission.

Yes, there are specific duties and tasks that each of us are assigned and accountable to complete.  Don't stop there.  Help your employees see the bigger picture and encourage them to consider how their role compliments the misison.  

Skip Weisman wrote about this in a great article “Eliminating It’s Not My Job Attitudes”

He said: When everyone in the company understands the ultimate outcome or purpose, everyone’s “job” is to contribute to it by applying their unique talent and skill in their “role.”

3)  Cross Train for Stellar Outcomes

A team success becomes more important than an individual success.  When employees have a better understanding of other’s roles and can function in that role when called upon, they are more open to doing what ever it takes to accomplish the mission.

4)  Correct the Chronic with a Conduct Policy

There will be times that you must address the person that refuses to be mission focused and hold them accountable to a standard that is higher than they prefer.  You do not want to ignore this issue or it will become your problem.  To keep this conversation from being personal, make it a matter of policy.  My friend Monica Wofford has a great perspective on how to accomplish this in her blog, “What Happens When That’s Not My Job Becomes That’s Not My Problem.”

-- Steven Iwersen

 

 


Five Reasons to Keep Your Staff Informed During Times of Change

Henry:  “Steven, I am really concerned about the changes the company is initiating and how the employees in my division are going to react.”  (He rolled his eyes, took a deep breath and continued.)  “I came here 5 years ago and we’ve seen 5 new directors come and go during that time.  Every one of those directors had a new idea or plan that we had to embrace, only to see all of our efforts thrown out when the company decided to get a new director.”   

Me:  “Tell me why you’re concerned about the new initiatives.”

Henry:  “Well in the past, every decision that introduced a change in our process was made in secret and handed down at the last moment.  No time for questions, buy-in or troubleshooting.  The morale takes another hit, there is no trust and the complainers get a little louder.”

That conversation sounds too familiar, doesn’t it?  I hear the same thing all over the country as I coach leaders in different industries - manufacturing, high-tech, offices, and non-profits.  However, on occasion I hear a different story.  There are organizations and leaders that have discovered that having an open dialogue and including people in the early stages of change is a successful strategy.  

 

Sharing important information with the people of your organization will generate five significant outcomes.

  1. It provides a foundation for them to understand the issues and decisions that have to be made.
  2. It minimizes the potential for speculation and misunderstandings.
  3. The “power brokers” in the organization that try to generate fear will have their leverage minimized.
  4. It creates opportunity for meaningful discussions and opportunity for people to offer suggestions/ideas on how to make the transitions successful.
  5. And most importantly, it sends a clear message that they are important enough to be trusted with the information.

Remember:  You are not leading change, you are leading people.

— Steven Iwersen


No More Boring Presentations: 3 Quick Tips to Get You Focused


A man that I hold in high regard, because of his insights on leadership, gave a presentation at an event I attended.  My expectations were high, the experience was disappointedly low.

I discovered that he is a comma communicator. This prolific author and influencer seemed to be incapable of getting to the point.  The presentation was plagued by incomplete thoughts and detours of impulsiveness.  The repetition of ideas sounded like he was circling around the airport, but couldn’t find the runway to land.  

“Maybe it’s just me today and I’m having a hard time listening,” I thought.  “Or, he is just having a bad day.”

I ordered the transcript of the program, thinking that if I could read his thoughts I’d have a better understanding.  It did help my understanding.  It also revealed that he is without question a comma communicator.  To be fair, I downloaded two more scripts of different presentations and sadly found the same problem.  

What is a comma communicator?  A person who speaks in incomplete, rambling sentences often punctuated by multiple commas. 

Here is an example from the transcript: 

“Well here is a point that I think makes all the difference, and if you think about it carefully, and I’ve been thinking about how this applies to a lot of different areas in my life and our business, because the impact can be a big deal if we don’t consider how important this is, especially if we ignore the current trends that we are facing during the next few months, and that is putting this issue at the top of our agenda.”

What was the point? 

When you and I communicate it is imperative that we get to the point.  Our listeners want to know what we think.  They will get lost and frustrated if we fail to communicate with clarity.

Three specific ideas on how to avoid the trap of a comma induced coma:

  • Use the period.  Communicate your point in one concise sentence.  Brevity can improve your credibility.  
  • Edit your illustration/opinion.  Support your ideas with a clear example or a confident opinion.  The art of editing is removing what is unnecessary or repetitive.  Supporting the point clearly and quickly will help people to stay focused on your ideas.
  • Practice writing daily.  Take 10 minutes every day to write a specific thought out into one sentence.  The fewer the words the better.  The best presentations that I have heard were presented by people who were excellent writers.  Their spoken words were influenced by their understanding of sentence structure and language.  A great way to improve your presentation skills is to take a writing class.  

I do think that the leader I mentioned has some great ideas.  I’ll just wait for the book.

-- Steven Iwersen

 


The Influence of Your Words

The words may be true, but what about the attitude?

People don’t process spoken words like they do when they read words.  The influence of the tone and inflection is the audible version of bold or italicized words.  What people hear causes them to interpret those words in ways we may not have intended.  A good manager knows how to filter their words through the screen of common sense and good judgement.

Here are two strategic ways to use the influence of your words.

1. Timing -  

Have you ever noticed how influential music is to the setting of a scene in a movie?   You can tell when something explosive is about to happen.  The music begins quietly and then gently builds in volume until the climatic moment.  Sometimes after a powerful dramatic encounter the music playfully offers a little relief.  And sometimes there is no music at all, but a pause of silence so that the viewer has a chance to think or breathe.

 

Your words are like music to your employees and team.  The timing of your words is just as important as what you say.  Great leaders know that in times of crisis or stress they should be speaking as soon as possible, providing a sense of direction or assurance.  They also know that when someone accomplishes a goal the words of praise need to be offered quickly.  And the power of the pause gives a leader the advantage of building the anticipation and attention of those that need to hear what is said.  

Another important timing tip - when you notice that the employee is focused on accomplishing a task or is in the middle of a conflict, consider offering them the courtesy of some time to personally complete their own thoughts and reflection before introducing yours.

2.  Questions

The questions you ask reveal what is important to you and sets the expectations.  

The manager of a retail store is constantly asking if the trash was taken out, the floors swept and the displays updated.  If those are the first questions the manager asks of the employees when they come to work, that is what they are going to focus upon.  What do you think those employees are going to do when a customer walks into the store - stop cleaning or start serving?  The manager that is always asking customer-related questions first is training the employees to put a high priority on service. 

Your questions establish the priorities of your employees.  What questions are you asking your team members today?

- Steven Iwersen


Six Key Words That Improve A Leaders Influence

IMG_0638The words you use influence the quality of your leadership.  Every single day we are engaged in an exchange of vocabulary.  Somehow the expressions we use forward our cause and produce favorable results.  The words that we hear are just as important, giving us a glimpse into others intentions and understanding.

Words are vital to a leader.  Strong, visionary, disruptive, encouraging, cautionary, and even the unspoken.  The words help us to lead. 

I want to suggest some words that you might not speak aloud, but should keep in mind as you relfect on your responsibility as a leader and the example that you set.  These are words that will enhance your influence and effectiveness.

Activity - a state of action.  A leader is action oriented.

Congruity - consistent and suitable to the priority. A leader is intentional in their actions.

Industry - steady attention to business. A leader is aware of the opportunities and dangers.

Alacrity  - promptness in response, cheerful readiness or prompt, brisk. A leader is responsive.

Priority - most important consideration.  A leader keeps focused on what matters most.

Futurity - future state or time (a future event). A leader thinks ahead.

Does your day to day activity reflect these key words?  Would the people you lead be able to claim that you are a person of these words?

What words would you add to the list that could make for better leadership?


Thinking Inside the Box Generates A One Million Dollar Result

Thinking inside the box can lead to out of the box results.  That is exactly what happened for Ryan Andersen.  He is the Doritos Super Bowl Commercial winner for 2014.   

Ryan’s “Time Machine” commercial was selected in the contest as one of the top five contenders.  During the game, the top two would be aired during a commercial break.  Based on AdMeter results, one of those commercials would be awarded the one million dollar prize on Monday, February 3rd, during the Good Morning America program.  Ryan’s efforts paid off and he is now a millionaire.

It all started because of a box!  Ryan said that he got the inspiration when his son asked him to make something out of a refrigerator box.  He collaborated with a couple of friends, spent $300 to create the ad, and captured the imagination of us all.  

 

I believe the ad sparked interest because most adults can remember creating something with a box when they were kids.  Take an ordinary box, imagine what it could be and with the collaboration of friends turn it into hours of fun! 

That child-like imagination is the key to innovation.  It is typically suppressed in our lives as we conform to the business world.  But there are ways to trigger it’s power and leverage those creative ideas to our advantage.  Ryan Andersen's experience reveals five ways that can help spark your best ideas:

1) Look at your challenge through the eyes of a child.

Often the best ideas are found in simplicity.  What questions would a kid have about the circumstances?  Don’t overthink things.

2) Find a way to develop an idea on a shoe string budget.

Limit yourself intentionally to a tight budget.  People who have little resources can become very resourceful.  (It’s the MacGyver concept.)

3) Have fun in the process.

Laughter attracts a crowd.  I believe that is partly what made this ad a winner, it made us laugh.  But, there is more to the point than that.  Creativity should trigger a natural sense of adventure within us.  A playful attitude and effort is a must.  So don’t take yourself too seriously. 

4) Include others in the process. 

5) Submit your efforts and see what other people think.

Ryan would’ve never won the prize money if he had decided to not submit the ad.  When you have developed your idea, put it out there for others to experience and to give you feedback.  A great idea will resonate with other people.  Let that idea have a chance to be seen.

Our “Thinking Inside the Box” training event is designed to help your employees rediscover the ability to creatively think through challenges and to work together.  Watch this short interview, then send us an email and we can explore some ideas to bring this training to you.  (Send your email to steven@steveniwersen.com)  

 

 


Don't Run Your Business Like They Run Washington

If your business was struggling with a budget issue, would it make sense for your president, executive officers and management team to appear on the morning news shows and travel to distant branches for news conferences in order to tell your employees and investors that things are bad?  Or would it make more sense if they actually did the work they get paid for and found ways to make the company more competitive, efficient and profitable?

IMG_2643
A Government shut down is not needed. Wise leaders are needed. Cut from the budget unnecessary costs. For example, the $179,750 per hour for Airforce One (not counting the security detail costs) every time the President travels to a P.R. event to promote another initiative or a fund raiser. Another example, the costs associated with keeping the Capitol open for 21 hours while a senator quotes Dr. Seuss and Darth Vader. It's time for leaders to lead and to stop campaigning.

Now take careful note, I am providing an "equal opportunity" poke at both parties.  I've been in DC plenty of times to observe party leaders on both sides of the aisle staging press conferences to campaign their views and not working at the same table to discuss solutions. The strong debate of issues has always been a part of our history. But at least our forefathers took their responsibilities to heart and didn't leave the chamber until they reached an agreement (i.e. a Declaration of Independence and a Constitution.)

Business leaders know that hammering out solutions is hard work, and that is exactly what others expect of them.  The process isn't always glamorous or pleasant.  It takes courage, collaboration and compromise to move things forward.  I think it's about time for a return to the work ethic of our founding fathers.

What do you think?

-  Steven Iwersen